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The panel lines up at the Phuket Creative Tourism Forum 2

Phuket Poachers Will Lose Market Without Skills, Seminar Hears

Sunday, July 31, 2011
PHUKET: Great improvements were needed in skills and attitude if Phuket is to keep prospering as a tourist destination when Asean allowed more freedom for workers from other countries in 2015, a Phuket meeting heard this week.

As well as making a plea for Phuket's beaches, Wichit Na-Ranong, who owns Phuket's Indigo Pearl, told the Phuket Creative Tourism Forum 2 that not enough people with the right skills were involved in Phuket's tourism industry.

''Poaching by one resort from another may solve the resort's immediate staff problem but it doesn't lift the overall skills level on Phuket,'' he said.

''It's unfortunate that people in the industry often progress without improving their basic skills.

''People who do not have the skills really need to be obliged to gain them. If we do nothing, we will lose out.''

He said four years was not enough time for Phuket to counter the coming competition, with neighboring countries better prepared and with better skills.

Differences in standards between universities that taught the same subjects also needed to be corrected, he said.

Bhuritt Maswongssa, vice president of the Phuket Tourism Association, said that if you took 100 Phuket people, perhaps 30 could speak English. But if you took 100 Malaysians, all of them would be able to speak English.

''Those Phuket people who speak English often can speak it quite well but there are not enough of them,'' he said.

Khun Wichit added: ''We have everything. Great Thai hospitality, delightful resorts . . . but we still struggle with skills and technique.''

The Permanent Secretary of Tourism and Sport, Somprasong Kommapat, praised the Blue Elephant restaurant chain for helping to save one of Phuket City's most magnificent mansions but that a lot more work needed to be done.

''Phuket needs to work on charm and culture, history and relationships,'' Khun Somprasong said.

About 300 key people from Phuket's tourism industry attended the gathering at Royal Phuket Marina.

Comments

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No wonder you are still struggling, if even the toddlers are mistreated in pre-school. How will something like this affect the whole school carrier? They will not like school, hate it and try to get around it. No fun, no motivation to excel, no love for knowledge if you beat them to make them "better". So stupid.

So every Thai kid is learning English, but a lot do not speak it. Small wonder? Because they are dis-encouraged to use their skills, because mistakes are highly "rewarded". They got it "beaten" into themselves, that they are not good and cannot.

And a second observation is: Not one Thai parent I know or heard of do take/have much time to read with their kids a book, or learn their kids numbers or other things in funny plays. So they grow up and do not like to read books and nearly everything has to be teached by sometimes not good educated (and paid) teachers. Its like they outsource knowledge building of their kids to someone with really less interest in their kid. Giving a 3 year old (!) stupid homework like painting the alphabet (and beat them, if the little kids hand move not according to the original...) does not enhance imagination and creativity in ones brain. Nice writing is highly overrated for a kid of even 5 years in this country. Better start with singing in English or counting and measuring your surroundings and and and.

Pre-school is where it starts.

Posted by Lena on July 31, 2011 14:24

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Many years ago, foreign-operated dive boats were employing Thai Divemasters to lead divers in water; today all day boats employ only westerners as dive guides and low-paid 5-6 Thai staff aboard are the captain, the mechanic engineer the cook and 2-3 deck-hands to fill the tanks and clean the boat.
Some large day dive boats it is more than 10-12 foreigners working illegally or legally through "Ghost" companies with proxy nominees as Thai directors, Thai shareholders and Thai staff in order to make their own work-permits.
If the Thai Government at national level or locally does not do anything; in 2015 it will be a mess as many Singaporeans and Malaysians will take the opportunity to work in Thailand in the tourism industry.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 1, 2011 10:59

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Why do the article refer to "Phuket people"? Is there a difference between phuket people and people with that nationality? All this "we have to help the local people" is getting very tiresome, a Thai from anywhere in Thailand should have the same rights as some "local people".

Whistle-Blower

Again you manage to turn any article into something concerning your pet concern, foreigners in the dive industry. Its getting really really boring. ANY time there is a tourism related news article I can be sure about seeing your whining about the state of the Dive industry, enough already. And why would it be "a mess" if Singaporeans and Malaysians work in the tourism industry? What "mess" do you foresee? People speaking good English at the hotel reception?

Wow, sounds terrible indeed.

Posted by christian on August 1, 2011 14:28

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@Whistle-Blower: It's not "a mess" if foreigners are tour guides and dive guides. It's simply a practical adaptation to a real need. Even for a divemaster, a certain level of proficiency in the tourists' first language is necessary to instill trust. How many Thai divemasters or tour guides speak Russian, Swedish, Korean, or German? Near zero, I'd guess.

It takes a decade to build up real fluency in a foreign language.

@Article's author: You wrote ''Poaching by one resort from another may solve the resort's immediate staff problem but it doesn't lift the overall skills level on Phuket,'' he said.

I respectfully disagree. Poaching means, in this case, luring a skilled worker away by using better salary as bait. Phuket NEEDS a merit-ocracy like that, so Phuket's workers will see that the more they can do, the better they'll be rewarded.

Posted by Fred on August 1, 2011 16:35

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@ Christian @ Fred,
All my comments in Phuketwan are justified as in Thailand they are laws regulating investments, businesses and labor for foreigners working in Thailand.
My comments may disturb some Phuketwan's readers because too many expats, illegal foreign workers and Thai people in Phuket are cheating and flouting the laws and regulations at the expense of those who are investing and following the Thai laws.
It is not acceptable from foreigners to comment on forums that they must cheat on official company papers and Thai regulations because Thai laws are not fair for foreigners to get work-permit.
We have a lot of problems in Phuket, because most of people living in Phuket do not care about laws and regulations and prefer money talk with corrupted civil servants to grab businesses from thoe who run properly their businesses.
Now, those who do not respect laws and regulations in order to live in harmony with neighbors and Thai people, may complain to the Thai Administrations that all laws and regulations in Thailand are stupid and xenophobe, blablabla...
5 commissions & committees just start last month to help all those rogue people to be by the law; so it is time to contact them and have good fun.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 1, 2011 17:09

Editor Comment:

You have made that point over and over again on Phuketwan, whistleblower. Why not concentrate next on those who have the power to act? You run the risk of losing the supporters you have by constant repetition.

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Editor Comment: You have made that point over and over again on Phuketwan, whistleblower. Why not concentrate next on those who have the power to act? You run the risk of losing the supporters you have by constant repetition.

I have contacts and regular official meetings with civil servants either in Phuket or Bangkok since longtime as do many local active residents.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 1, 2011 18:11

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"My comments may disturb some Phuketwan's readers because too many expats, illegal foreign workers and Thai people in Phuket are cheating and flouting the laws and regulations at the expense of those who are investing and following the Thai laws".

No, they disturb me because you keep posting the same thing and never give any supporting facts, documents or proof of any kind. So you have a theory that this is the case. Good for you, we get it. I am certainly one of those who are investing and following the Thai laws. In my opinion if others want to ignore those laws and are cheating and flouting them, that is up to them. They take those risks on their own, I chose not to. From that point on it is neither my concern or my business. Do you have any evidence to support your statement that people other than yourself are concerned by this?

"It is not acceptable from foreigners to comment on forums that they must cheat on official company papers and Thai regulations because Thai laws are not fair for foreigners to get work-permit".

Why "must they cheat"? I have never had to cheat or obfuscate, many others I know who have businesses don't have to cheat or lie. How are the laws "unfair"? I really don't get this old saw. There are laws, they seem to be the same for all expats. We are guests in this country, I may not like the laws but I have no right to flout them. When you start a business in any foreign country you accept the local laws and in making a decision to invest accept these costs as part of it. The laws for business here have pretty much remained the same over the last 20 years, with small changes. How could you accept those laws one day (investing is accepting) and call them unfair the next? Not accepting the consequences of your own decisions is rather childish. I have businesses in Vietnam, Thailand, China, Singapore and Korea. Each has a different set of laws or requirements and they each are as fair as the other one, many I don't like but that does not make them unfair. If you are saying they give an advantage to the local people. Yes, governments tend to product local industry. Ever read the immigration laws of most countries? Ever invest in another foreign country? In each company I have active local partners, we work within the systems legally. Often, I have been contacted to discuss foreign investment and company law with local leaders. Never have I thought or considered telling them their laws were "unfair". Sorry but that is just silly, unfair to whom?

"We have a lot of problems in Phuket, because most of people living in Phuket do not care about laws and regulations and prefer money talk with corrupted civil servants to grab businesses from thoe who run properly their businesses."

Poppycock. Who's legally set up and legally operating businesses in Thailand are being stolen by corrupted civil servants? Oh, let me guess you know a guy who knows a guy. Or even better you knew somebody who said that is what happened to them. Not very convincing evidence on this island I am afraid. "Most people ..." Where do you get this? do you have any statistical, written, proven, supportable evidence that indicates most people living ... prefer talk with corrupted civil servants, etc. Sorry, lacking any evidence these are wild irrational generalities.

"Now, those who do not respect laws and regulations in order to live in harmony with neighbors and Thai people, may complain to the Thai Administrations that all laws and regulations in Thailand are stupid and xenophobe, blablabla..."

Very confusing paragraph. Why are people who don't respect the laws doing so in order to live in harmony with neighbors ...? Why would people who don't respect the laws take the time to complain to Thai Administrations that all laws are stupid? The laws in Thailand are not any goofier than the laws in the US, Canada, Europe, etc. Personally, I believe those that observe the laws are probably busy trying to do the best job possible of running their business and not worried about what Larry, Moe and Curly are doing with their businesses or how they stay here or whether they can steal them from someone else. Business is its own dynamic, if you are waiting for the government or new laws or outside intervention to bail you out or make you more competitive I would suggest you might as well close up shop now because that help is not coming. Success in business comes "in spite of" these factors not because of. If you started a business without a clear understanding of what the laws in this country were and what the rules were it is too late to cry and whine but that probably explains the cause if not the source of your complaints.

When I think of a whistleblower I think of one of these guys who stands in a parking lot inanely blowing his whistle at people who are parking. Just a lot of noise and very annoying, unless you can back these statements up this is just noise. Excessively repeating generalities, excuses and innuendo will not make them true.

Posted by Martin on August 1, 2011 19:41

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#Whistle-Blower
Yes, I am another that that gets totally bored with your continual moaning. Normal people who are so dissatisfied with their lot would move elsewhere where they are not given the run-around, so to this end I have a suggestion that you might consider beneficial and profitable for you and your business. Move to the Pacific Island of Sakhalin where there is a rapidly expanding tourism industry. The surrounding sea is famous for the variety of whales and other sea creatures. Diving under the ice would be a new and good experience for you during the long winter months, and in the short summer many, many tourists will be eager to go on your dive boats, and maybe you could consider purchasing a live-aboard. Think about ''hassle free diving at last, no visa restrictions, and, best of all '' no work permits needed. You'll just love it, so, go for it.

Posted by Pete on August 1, 2011 19:44

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Here is the link to the official document confirming what I am saying on different forums about many foreigners setting "Ghost" companies with proxy Thai Directors, Thai Shareholders and Thai staff which is illegal in Thailand.
http://www.mfa.nl/contents/pages/10651/foreignbusinessact.pdf
Foreign Business Act B.E. 2542 (1999)
Section 36. Any Thai national or juristic person that is not a foreigner under this Act, aiding or abetting or taking part in the business operation of the foreigners whose business falls under the Lists attached hereto and the foreigners are not permitted to operate the business or taking part in the business operation of the foreigner by showing that he or it is the sole owner of the business or holding shares on behalf of the foreigners in any partnership or limited company or juristic person in order for the foreigners to operate the business in avoidance of or violation to the provisions of this Act, including the foreigners allowing Thai nationals or juristic persons that are not foreigners under this Act to do so, shall be punished with an imprisonment of not exceeding three years or a fine from 100,000 Baht to 1,000,000 Baht or both, and the Court shall order a stoppage of the aiding or abetting or order a stoppage of the joint business operation or order a stoppage of share holding or a cessation of the partnership as the case may be. Violators of the Court's order shall be subject to a punishment with a fine of 10,000 Baht to 50,000 Baht per day throughout the period of violation.
@ Martin
Sure, if you have business in Vietnam, Thailand, China, Singapore and Korea, you are not in the same situation as many expat residents who have lived in Thailand for decades with Thai wife and dual-citizen children as if you lose some businesses in one country you will have other profitable businesses in 4 other countries.
@ Pete
Generally , all comments on forums are most of the time complains relating to the topics.
Now, if my comments displeased you, why you read all of them to complain later on my complain comments? Just skip them and you will be happy or otherwise move yourself on Pacific Islands as suggested by yourself.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 2, 2011 11:50

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Posting the law is not posting evidence supporting any of your claims. I know the law.

You claim that most people lie to get work permits, that corrupt officials are stealing companies from farangs, that people have to cheat to get a work permit, that most people support cheating and that most people see this as a problem. Without proof it sounds more like you are trying to justify your own behavior.

I started my first company here 20 years ago with 60,000 baht. It has grown to what it is. Again you draw imaginative conclusions and make irrational assumptions.

Are there any facts to back up your claims? If so provide them.

Posted by Martin on August 2, 2011 12:35

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@ Martin
Many dive Instructors or westerners willing to get a get work-permit in Phuket and Thailand at large are setting-up a company limited or limited partnership with little money as 30,000 Baht fee to a Lawyer or an accounting office.
They never put in company asset the minimum 2M Baht required by the law and never employ 4 Thai staff working full-time with a minimum salary for 1 work-permit as required by the Labour Department. I know dozens of foreign Instructors in that case.
You claim that corrupt officials are stealing companies from farangs: I never say that but lack of ethic and petty corruption amongst civil servants at all levels are destabilizing the free market business in Thailand as those who pay bribes to corrupted civil servants are at advantage against those following the law.
Look around you, many expats are buying lands & houses for living and are setting-up a Thai company to own a property but all legal documents are done with proxy Thai nominees (Generally lawyers and accounting Thai staff) which is illegal.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 2, 2011 13:18

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Again this is all conjecture. Have you seen the books of these people? You say you know dozens who do it this way. Does that mean 5 dozen, 10 dozen, 20 dozen? Let's say 20 dozen, you are talking here about 240 people out of 100,000+? Corruption is an externalization, a market inefficiency that is present in all business environments and has been since the start of capitalism. It is a known entity and you are correct it creates competitive disadvantages. These are usually temporary in nature (see Adam Smith "The Invisible Hand - circa 1776). Historically business owners and operators have had to deal with such inefficiencies until the market corrects itself (usually by the flouters and inefficient operators failing). Again, this is basic business management, you accept the rules of the environment and adapt or die.

Petty corruption is a fact in more countries than it is not a fact in. Whether those who use this avenue have an advantage in the long run is questionable as the market tends to weed them out over time. Some do succeed most don't. If they are as good at running their business as they are at scamming they will succeed, if they are not as good as you they will lose. If hit and run operators who function like this cause a competitive conflict a smart business owner would use that to their advantage.

Lack of work ethic and petty corruption amongst government workers? Shocking. Please name the countries in which it does not exist (simpler go through any US airport or apply for a drivers license and look around). I'll wait. .....

I understand that I am wasting my time with you, but your posts are at least passionate even if based on conjecture and mis-information. I admire passion in any cause so I will give you some good advice.

Posting comments on this topic serves no purpose other than alienating people to your position and better arming the cheaters. This is especially true if you have no facts to support your surmises and you have NONE. It is up to the local authorities whose taxes we pay to do their job and you to do the best job you can of running your business. You are a guest here. Polite guests don't run around tattling on the other guests. Obsessing about what your competitors do or don't do is a distraction that will lead to failure of your business. This is guaranteed, there has never been a successful business where a primary focus was telling on the competition.

Posted by Martin on August 2, 2011 15:21

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Whistle-blower

Im now more interested in what you mean with Phuket becoming a "mess" because people from Asean countries will be able to legally work in the tourism industry? What mess? And why? Please explain.

Posted by christian on August 2, 2011 15:44

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@ Martin
If I understood your stand, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly must mind their businesses so The Bad and The Ugly will have free hand to stole money, grab public lands & properties and businesses from The Goods.
That was Far West a long time ago and civilized people do not accept that fact other way:
- TukTuk drivers will block all prospect of modern public transport in Phuket.
- Jet-Ski operators will continious to scam foreigners for easy money.
- Land developpers will encroach all public beaches and national forests.
- Bars, beauty salons and massage parlours will put as much Thai girls to work as prostitutes.
- brewery and alcohol distributors will push the government to make easy access to alcohol 24/7 and 365/year.
- Politicians will use bribes to be elected and grab 20-30% tea-money on all government contracts.
And so on....
Some public order must be the rule and unruly people have to change.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 2, 2011 16:49

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That's quite a odd, where did I say or imply that?

Only in the movies was it ever like that in the west. Real life was considerably different but, your point remains, all economies and democracies go through growing pains. We were discussing labor and business law not the social and tourism problems of Phuket. Assuming that I agree with you that these problems are accurately portrayed here (I don't). I would say that as soon as this society decides it really wants a modern public transport system it will have it. As soon as they really decide that the jet ski's and corruption have to stop they will be stopped or at least reduced. When they commit to paying and training police well enough that corruption is no longer a near necessity the laws will be uniformly enforced. When they decide that encroachment is no longer in their financial and social interests, limits or a stop to that will occur as well. As soon as they accept that properly educating their poor and providing them with a reasonable standard of living is beneficial, there will be other options open to the women besides prostitution and the farm girls will not flock here to become prostitutes. I don't think you can really blame the massage parlors and bars for the number of working girls it is not that simple. Likewise the alcohol sales here are limited already and I think will get stricter soon. Similarly I think you would be hard pressed to prove that 20-30% of all government contractts go to tea money. I have been involved in several where there was none and a few short years ago Korea was far worse than here, Indonesia still is from my experience. But none of these issues are surprises to the Thai people or the Thai Government so other than reminding them what is the point? These are educated reasonable people things have not been changed yet for a reason and there are in fact many reasons not just the ones you articulate.

I would agree that there are some serious issues on Phuket, far more serious than 250 dive guys fabricating for their work permits. What once worked on a little island micocosm will no longer work in the current high growth environment. The infrastructure has simply not kept pace with the growth the island has undergone. Metaphorically, the island is like a kid who used tantrums to get what he wanted as a child who becomes an adult and still throws tantrums. You can ignore the kid when he throws a tantrum but when the adult throws one it is more problematic. Allowing the tuk-tuks and jet ski's to do as they please worked when it was a small place, mediate take a little for everyone and move on. As a larger economy it doesn't work anymore and most of the things on this list fall in the same category, where the old solutions just don't work anymore but are still applied. The bureaucracy will catch up in time. This really is more complicated an there are several economic and social theories/ historical precedents that apply but not really fitting for a Phuket Wan post.

I think where the difference between us lies is that while I do provide input to local leaders on problems I see in the end I believe that this society is more than capable of seeing the problems and fixing them (in their own way and time) without my help or any outside opinions. When I look at how "advanced society" has handled them and their lack of success I would encourage Thailand to go it's own way. I would rather work with them than constantly point out their shortcomings. I see no benefit in that and do not see it as constructive. As well I see the hope in the fact that Thailand is an emerging democracy, society and economy and the fact that they are starting from a somewhat clean slate means there is reason for more hope. Mainly I hold the hope that they will not make the same mistakes that the US, UK, France, Germany, etc. have made simply because someone believed that was the way it had to be done.

Posted by Martin on August 2, 2011 19:34

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ASEAN trade in services will be liberalized in 2015. Tourism is on the list of industries that will be liberalized. I don't think you will see a huge number of non-Thai ASEAN citizens coming to Phuket.
It might be the other way around. If you can make THB 25 - 30 / month working as a hotel receptionist in Singapore, why not. Then again, maybe we would get more Burmese, Lao's, Vietnamese coming to fill these spots if they can speak English.

Also, from the ASEAN website, foreign ownership (ASEAN member country) in tourism industries will eventually rise to 70%. So maybe with more security in the ownership of your company, the nominee issue, etc... will die down and we won't hear from WB anymore.

Posted by GiantFan on August 10, 2011 12:16

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@GiantFan: Also, from the ASEAN website, foreign ownership (ASEAN member country) in tourism industries will eventually rise to 70%. So maybe with more security in the ownership of your company, the nominee issue, etc... will die down and we won't hear from WB anymore.
Whistle-Blower's comment:
Under the Asean Economic Community (AEC) plan, Thailand is set to raise its 49% ceiling on foreign ownership of logistics service operators to 51% in 2011 then to 70% in 2013.
Singapore, Laos and Cambodia already allow 100% foreign ownership of logistics-related business.
Once the single market is fully implemented under the framework of the AEC, all trade barriers will be removed. Thailand will have to treat foreign companies from Asean using the same standards as those applied to Thai companies.
The AEC groups 10 Southeast Asian countries namely Thailand Malaysia Singapore Indonesia the Philippines Brunei Vietnam Burma Cambodia and Laos. Asean's original members were Thailand Malaysia Indonesia Singapore the Philippines and Brunei with four new recent members namely Cambodia Laos Vietnam and Burma.
- Up to 31 December 2010: 49% ceiling on foreign ownership of logistics service operators.
- From 01 January 2011 up to 31 December 2012: 51% ceiling on foreign ownership of logistics service operators.
- From 01 January 2013 up to 31 December 2014: 70% ceiling on foreign ownership of logistics service operators.
- From 01 January 2015 up: 100% ceiling on foreign ownership of logistics service operators.
What I understood, it is only for companies or citizens from ASEAN and Thailand may reinforce the law to limit of influx of non-ASEAN citizens as there are a lot of meeting between different tourism associations and the Thai Administration to protect Thai jobs.
By example, the Department of Tourism, a new unit under the Ministry of Tourism & Sports, intends to upgrade the standards of Thai guides to prepare for the creation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by 2015.
Some Thai guides today lack quality and language skills, which could prevent them from competing effectively in Asean countries. To solve this long-standing problem before 2015, the department will set separate standards of guides for domestic and international tourists, said director-general Supol Sripna.
"Thai guides who provide services to foreign tourists have to have their language skills certified by well-known institutions for each language when applying or renewing their licences," he said.
About 40,000 Thai tour guides are registered nationwide. The general qualifications are that a guide must have a bachelor's degree and have successfully passed the training course organised by the Department of Tourism.
In early 2012, new guides who wish to work in international markets, have to have language certification, such as TOEIC or TOEFL, when applying for tour guide licences. Existing guides will be required to do so when renewing their licences.
"The department will set standard details and propose them to a working committee this year. I think the standards will be effective early next year," said Mr Supol.
Besides, the department will push forward other requirements. They should be Thai nationals aged at least 18 years old and should work at tourist destinations, which are suitable for local guides.
The department will set up a committee to identify such tourist destinations.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 16, 2011 09:27

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Looks to me that there is a lot of discussion here that is not directly related to the news article??
One wonders what, if any, is/were/was the consensus of opinion(s) and action items therefrom .. ..ongoing strategy tactics?? What is the "industry" proposing to do about their problems? How about financing a training school for the hospitality industry. What hospitality courses are currently available now, any?? Obviously courses should include some basic language skills ( English, Japanese, German, Russian etc)training?
It would be nice if this and other such gatherings had some objective in mind other than a tax free boondoggle.

Posted by david on August 21, 2011 05:09


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